Do we have free-will?

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by soulx, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. soulx
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    soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    In the book, The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking says that we are simply biological machines without any free will. The exact quote from the book is as shown below,
    Do people have free will? If we have free will, where in the evolutionary tree did it develop? Do blue-green algae or bacteria have free will, or is their behavior automatic and within the realm of scientific law? Is it only multicelled organisms that have free will, or only mammals? We might think that a chimpanzee is exercising free will when it chooses to chomp on a banana, or a cat when it rips up your sofa, but what about the roundworm called Caenorhabditis elegans—a simple creature made of only 959 cells? It probably never thinks, “That was damn tasty bacteria I got to dine on back there,” yet it too has a definite preference in food and will either settle for an unattractive meal or go foraging for something better, depending on recent experience. Is that the exercise of free will?

    Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets. Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws. For example, a study of patients undergoing awake brain surgery found that by electrically stimulating the appropriate regions of the brain, one could create in the patient the desire to move the hand, arm, or foot, or to move the lips and talk. It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.[/p]Do you agree?
    Personally, I think it is narrow-minded to claim that free-will as we know it, does not exist and that our actions are regulated by physical law. I'm sure it does exist to a certain degree. While, there may be certain aspects that influence our actions, we still have a choice as to whether to do something or not.
     


  2. Ikki

    Ikki GBATemp's grumpy panda.

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    I dunno, I like to think so. But there's always an influence to whether we do or not something.


    There was a topic about this last year.
     
  3. Lilith Valentine

    Lilith Valentine GBATemp's Wolfdog™ The saint of all the sinners

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    I believe we have some kinda free-will. Even if something is predetermined, we can make decisions which is what I believe could be called a form of "Free will."
     
  4. TrolleyDave

    TrolleyDave Philosolosophising

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    Personally I think we have free will to a certain extent. We suffer from biological, physiological and educational trappings to a certain extent but for the most part we make our own decisions. We're definitely more than capable of breaking free from the educational trappings and to a certain extent the biological ones as well depending on how hard-wired they are.
     
  5. Nujui

    Nujui I need something to do.

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    I agree, only to an extent do we have free will.
     
  6. Guild McCommunist

    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    [youtube]OnxkfLe4G74[/youtube]

    Rush is right:

    "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

    And I can't really decide myself.
     
  7. Slyakin

    Slyakin See ya suckers

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    If you look at it from a scientific point of view, we don't. We're just programmed to find ultimate comfort, reproduce, and die.

    If you look at it from a religious/spiritual/etc. point of view, we do. Our choices are affecting everything we're doing.

    So, we do and don't at the same time.
     
  8. s4mid4re

    s4mid4re  

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    *snip*
    Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets. Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws. For example, a study of patients undergoing awake brain surgery found that by electrically stimulating the appropriate regions of the brain, one could create in the patient the desire to move the hand, arm, or foot, or to move the lips and talk. It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.[/p]
    The above experiment doesn't prove to me that we don't have free will.

    Yes, we will move our body IF we are affected by electrical stimulation. But does this guy think that we get those electrical signals (or whatever is causing us to move) spontaneously in our daily lives?

    I don't think so. I think our free will is affecting the brain, causing us to move our body.
     
  9. axioanic

    axioanic Newbie

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    Its a good argument, but it only considers a biological view of cognition in that it reduces thought to the connection of neurons in an attempt to explain behavior scientifically.

    The mind has a basis on the physical brain, but it is not the only defining principle.

    An example of another principle is how a decision can be influenced by misinformation. If you were told a car bumped another car then you would probably say its speed was slow, when in all possibility it actually caused significant damage and happened at a high speed. Language or social interaction also defines free-will (as shown through a decision) in this way.

    or something like that [​IMG]
     
  10. MEGAMANTROTSKY

    MEGAMANTROTSKY GBAtemp Fan

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    Free will often appears to me as a metaphysical abstraction. But that does not completely close the discussion, because within it is a very important question: Can we be free? Currently, this explanation satisfies me: (Discussions with Leon Trotsky on the Transitional Program, 1938) http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/19...p/tpdiscuss.htm
     
  11. _Chaz_

    _Chaz_ GBAtemp's Official Mook™

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    You can argue that you're choosing for yourself, but you can also argue that choices are a product of the society we live in and not our own.

    Either way, I'm going to make choices that some won't agree with.
     
  12. cwstjdenobs

    cwstjdenobs Sodomy non sapiens

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    Yes and no. Best answer you're going to get ever really. But some will put it better.
     
  13. Narayan

    Narayan desu~

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    free will?

    i think it really depends on someone's perception of free will.
    (pardon me for some wrong grammar)
    (also these are just merely my observations, these are merely opinions and does not have sufficient study. i really don't expect you to believe me, but if i'm right in thinking what 'two-cents' mean, then these are my 'two-cents')
    (assume this is on the age of 7-10, since i'm just explaining the basic, older people have more experience hence the more complex observations and conclusions. but these is the basic flow)


    - humans see things and store it as memories.
    for example, we see a kid get his knee scraped because he fell down the ground while biking fast.


    - then based on that memories a conclusion that depends on how deep we understand the flow of events.
    there could be a lot of reason why the kid fell down and the parameters involved in judging if it's the reason.
    1. it might be due to his excessive speed. since it's the first thing you see.
    2. there could be a stone that he ran over, but you as a watcher, might have not noticed, hence [1]
    3. he might have been blinded by light, but the weather is somewhat cloudy. so this idea is dismissed.
    4. he might have been distracted by something. but that idea only crosses the mind if you saw the kid 'change' while riding the bike.
    there are other possible reasons but because this in an example and not an investigation, 4 would be sufficient. and it how open-minded and observant you are, and your previous knowledge affects what possible reasons you'll come up with.



    - based on your conclusion, you you decide on what action/s you will take if that event occurs. which may be classified as trauma.
    if
    1. to avoid that 'event'(falling down and scraping the knee). you choose to ride the bike at limited speed.
    2. because you noticed the stone, next time you choose where the tires will go to avoid falling down.
    3. (from personal experience) if i was suddenly blinded by light, i immediately try to recall what i last saw of the environment, and think of a possible place where i can hit the brakes safely. mostly it's just hit the brakes immediately unless my current position isn't safe.
    4. i'll try to focus at where i am going and my surroundings as well.


    there is also a possibility of thinking of multiple reasons. for example, 1 and 2 might have caused a chain,'he was riding fast so he didn't notice the stone'.
    there are also possibilities that the 'event' is something you haven't seen the result yet. and so, at that point, you guess. you're guess might depends on how you put things together like a puzzle. bending previous memories and think what might happen if you put two and two together.

    that's all.



    EDIT: whew. i'm actually trembling a bit now..
     
  14. Waflix

    Waflix El Psy Congroo

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    I have some complicated theories that say, in short, that we don't have a free-will. That is because the universe already decided what is going to happen and what not.
    I think the future is indeed already determined, but we still have a minor influence on what's going to happen. Some kind of Last Resort. I don't think we are machines without a free will.
     
  15. Miss Panda

    Miss Panda GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I believe we absolutely have free will. Our choices may be coloured by life experience, upbringing, culture and even genetics. But ultimately we decide what paths to go down be they for good or evil. I think this, 'we don't have free will' proposition is just an excuse to abdicate responsibility for your own actions.

    And if we don't have free will then jails are immoral and should be abolished immediately.
     
  16. Panzer Tacticer

    Panzer Tacticer veteran human

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    The problem with the concept of Free Will, is it is a subjective argument.

    For instance, you stand utterly naked in front of a very attractive person (for sake of argument I will consider it a person of your preference). That very attractive person very suggestively begins to strip for you leaving nothing to the imagination. What are your chances of NOT getting horny?

    Odds are you get horny as you likely have no free will in this case.

    But you do of course have the freedom to just not get undressed and watch the show.

    You eat three good meals today, what are the chances you can refuse to use the washroom in a couple of hours time? About as good as not taking a leak after your third beer.

    Now I could type in the usual religious mumbo jumbo, but I am not going to, because that stuff is all dumb crap.

    I could type in a lot of very long winded physics, but again, a lot of it is very long winded near impossible to demonstrate theory as well.

    Recently, the show 'Through the Wormhole' with Morgan Freeman did a great article on the matter of Life after Death. It mentioned some awesome stuff concerning the mind. The world we are in right now, might not be all that there is, but our senses simply can't view anything else under the conditions we live in.

    Just how free you really are, might be something you just can't fully quantify.
     
  17. ProtoKun7

    ProtoKun7 GBAtemp Time Lord Regenerations: 3

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    We do have free will. That's not to say we're omnipotent, however.
    We're free to make our own choices, but that doesn't mean that I'm able to strut into the Sun and survive just because I want to.

    Of course, I'd have thought the latter part was rather obvious, but I thought I should make that point.
     
  18. Haloman800

    Haloman800 a real gril

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    It depends on how you define free will. God knows what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen. No matter what we do, we can't change where we'll end up.

    ..BUT, since we do not know our destiny, it could be anything. We make the choices that define our destiny, God knows the answer to our choices, therefore he knows our destiny, but they could be anything.


    ..Sorry I'm bad at explaining things.
     
  19. SinHarvest24

    SinHarvest24 Shiroyasha

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    I do believe that we have free will. It's what makes us unique, it's a huge factor that determines our personality. If we didn't had free will we all would be the same; just doing what it takes to survive. We wouldn't even have ambitions. This is my believe, but could be misinterpreting this all wrong...
     
  20. Searinox

    Searinox <3

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    I'd say yes - we can all do what we please but no - we are bound to the causality of the universe. Thankfully this bond is very VERY generous and you have extremely high flexibility. In the past I would also use the word "determinism" but after understanding some concepts in quantum physics I have laid that aside. Although the result of uncertainties at quantum level are likely to have nearly no effect on the decisions we make, they add more randomness to an already flexible system, where the very thought of doing something very obvious can make you do the exact opposite just because you want to break the rules. In the end your brain's functioning belongs to the universe's laws and you have no way out of there. One of the most simple ways to see this is to try the "freedom" of thinking about some extremely complex equation or problem and you'll realize your thinking is limited by your physical brain, its number of cells and the way it works. Limitation can also apply to other types of thinking including decisions we make and feelings we have. That is where your authority on free will ends and the constraints of the universe begin.